Review of “The Long Way To A Small, Angry Planet” by Becky Chambers

This is a fun and heart-warming space opera that takes place aboard the “Wayfarer,” a ship patched together for long-haul journeys to carry out the contractual creation of wormhole tunnels. It is manned with a small, diverse and endearing multi-species crew. The spaceship is “home” to the crew, and the crew members have become family to one another.


Several changes in the status quo occur to set up the action. One is that the crew acquires a new member, Rosemary Harper, to serve as clerk to the affable captain. Rosemary has a secret, and it unclear at first what her actual role will be. The second is that the ship receives a very lucrative contract offer to make a new tunnel connecting Central Space to a far off planet in possibly hostile territory. The third is that several of the crew members face existential challenges that cause the crew to reevaluate their feelings toward one another, and their respect for one another’s cultures.

Discussion: The descriptions of the diverse species in the Galactic Commons, the disparities and similarities among them, and the ways in which they each strive to adjust and have consideration for the others, are quite entertaining. I also enjoyed the emphasis on the quotidian – such as the need to come up with clothing and ship decor, food that appeals to everyone, treating wounds, making the spaceship “homey,” and dealing with interspecies attractions.

There is much discussion about what species can and should do to survive, most of which involves a rejection of hatred and killing to solve problems. As one of the characters tells Rosemary:

“All you can do … all any of us can do . . . is work to be something positive instead. That is a choice that every sapient must make every day of their life. The universe is what we make of it.”

The pacing is slow, but not in an off-putting way. Rather, it just seems like one more resemblance to the television series “Firefly.” Each chapter could serve as an “episode.”

Evaluation: This is an entertaining story that is perhaps more about relationships than its status as a “science fiction” book would suggest.

Rating: 3.5/5

Published in the U.S. by Harper Voyager, an imprint of HarperCollins, 2014


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7 Responses to Review of “The Long Way To A Small, Angry Planet” by Becky Chambers

  1. Kay says:

    I have this book on my Kindle. Purchased it some time back after reading a great review. And then, didn’t get to it. However, you had me at Firefly. Will try it soon.

  2. BermudaOnion says:

    Vance would probably love this.

  3. Jeanne says:

    I loved this! It’s true that the story is about the crew, but there is some adventure…they get to the small, angry planet…

  4. Rachel says:

    I love the idea of different species being worried about their clothes and decorating the space ship.

  5. Beth F says:

    Oh this sounds fun. I remember that series Firefly

  6. Kailana says:

    I really need to get around to this. I keep meaning to!

  7. I didn’t love this book as much as everyone else did, but I think high expectations played a role. I do want to give the sequel a try, and I’m hoping it will work better for me.

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